Author Topic: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?  (Read 12442 times)

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #20 on: 07/25/2017 10:43 PM »
They would have to change it and spend a lot more money on it to satisfy my 'vision' of it - so it would probably be a lost cause. But anyway:

If they are going to throw away that much magnificent hardware each time - maximize and optimize it...

1): Hydrocarbon, reusable, 'flyback' booster powered by F-1Bs or AR1s. These would land at the KCS Shuttle landing facility runway. I know that such boosters were looked at in the Shuttle era; pre-'Columbia'.
2): Increase the corestage RS25E engine quantity to 5 or 6x engines.
3): Upper stage upgrade to a 'stretched' ACES technology stage - long life cryo ability, new, higher-thrust engines than RL-10. Such a stage, coupled with 'high thrust' SEP technology would give significant solar system transport ability. An SLS improved to this level could get about 150 metric tons into Low Earth Orbit in one shot. Enough for single-launch Manned Lunar Missions - 'Apollo On Steroids'. But able to conduct 2-week surface stay missions for a crew of four.

And with an ability to launch 4 or 5x per year, this could allow 2x manned and 3x cargo missions to the Moon per year - or 3x manned and 2x cargo missions per annum. Good enough for long stay Lunar Outpost missions.

And Orion: increase the Service Module propellant quantity to something a lot better than a mere 9 tons, and improve the spacecraft's heatshield to where it could withstand direct, high-speed entry from deep space - such as from Mars. Also, improve it's deep space lifetime to something like three years. Orion may not ever have to go all the way to Mars and back; but in some mission architectures, it might have to. It would function as a Command & Control Module for a Mission Module stack and provide return to Earth duties.

However - all the above improvements would be expensive and not trivial. And the coming New Glenn boosters and SpaceX's 9-meter diameter version of the ITS may make most of the above somewhat obsolete. But this remains to be seen, for some time to come.
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Offline redliox

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #21 on: 07/25/2017 11:11 PM »
My mind, as is, is split in half regarding SLS/Orion...

I support the SLS fully, but the Orion I loathe.  Once SpaceX, Blue Origins, etcetera has an equivalent-or-better rocket up and running, of course look into phasing out the SLS.  The SLS was conceived based on the needs of both Mars and Luna enthusiasts, which was the need for a Heavy Lift Vehicle that could be cobbled together (reasonably [which is extraordinarily subjective when you're talking government]) quickly.  The Orion was meant to be a beefier version of the Apollo orbiter.  Both items were dreamed up with good intentions in mind...

Of the 2, Orion is the more lackluster.  But to stay on topic, what it would take to change my mind about it would be a heavy revision of its service module, which ESA seems to be less and less capable of producing (and more so likewise for Lockheed Martin which should have handled it).  The weight problems originally from the Ares I should be wiped clean; restart from an SLS base with the goal of keeping Orion in CisLunar space and capable of reaching essentially 'Medium Lunar Orbit', i.e. anything between NRO and the various elliptical orbits with some utility.

For the moment, NASA seems on a path to revisiting Lunar orbit including with a space station.  I favor the Mars path more, and I believe the SLS could do either.  Orion, on the other hand, is clearly Moon-bound.  Perhaps a Martian and Lunar program could exist simultaneously, just not easily or at current funding.

But in short, I'd say junk the Block I mission, junk the ESA service module, switch directly to Block IB, and cobble together a stronger (and of course all-American) service module if you wish me to have better opinions on both SLS and Orion.
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Offline Semmel

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #22 on: 07/26/2017 09:10 AM »
An interesting view on the topic from Ars Technica:

Quote
One of the SLS critics whom I most highly regard, and who is deeply plugged into Washington space policy and favors commercial space, has rationalized the rocket and Orion like this. While NASA will spend in excess of $3 billion a year for the foreseeable future on “pork” like the rocket and spacecraft, it now also spends $2 billion to $3 billion a year on commercial crew and cargo. That money goes to SpaceX and other companies that push forward more economical means of space transportation. My source views the agency’s payments on SLS and Orion as a “stupidity tax” that allows “good money” to be spent on commercial space.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-big-nasa-rocket/

(go to page 4 for the quote)

I dont necessarily agree with the assessment, but calling the SLS a stupidity tax on NASA so that it can do cool stuff is one way to not loose your mind when viewing the influence of Congress on NASA.

Offline jgoldader

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #23 on: 07/26/2017 12:17 PM »
This is probably OT, but...

Having just read a comment about SLS on another website, I feel compelled to interrupt this argument to say how much I appreciate the owners and community here at NSF.com.

NSF plays things straight down the middle; it's as unbiased a news source as I've ever seen.  No one program, company, or country is cheered or jeered at the expense of any others.  If you show me an article that's "pro-SpaceX," I can point to one that's "pro-Orbital ATK," or "pro-ULA," or whatever.  If the place has a bias, it's simply one in favor of the peaceful exploration and use of space.

At the same time, we're all free to share our knowledge and express our opinions, whatever they may be, in these forums.  By and large, we even behave.  I like to believe that's because there's a lot of respect here for the folks who get things done in space (some of whom are frequent commenters).

While we might not all be of the same opinion about SLS, we are at least mostly able to disagree respectfully.  For my part, while I might not think the program is a good use of scarce funds, and I've said so, I sure hope that when it flies, it achieves a 100% mission success rate, and that the people who worked on it can look back on a job well done.
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Offline Lar

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #24 on: 07/26/2017 03:23 PM »
This is probably OT, but...

Definitely off topic! But can't bring myself to delete it for some reason, LOL (even before I noticed that the Boss Man liked it)  We try. This particular thread just had a lot of cleanup because it was starting to descend into the usual general political stuff.. hopefully all sorted now.
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Offline Semmel

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #25 on: 07/26/2017 03:45 PM »
At the same time, we're all free to share our knowledge and express our opinions, whatever they may be, in these forums.  By and large, we even behave.  I like to believe that's because there's a lot of respect here for the folks who get things done in space (some of whom are frequent commenters).

I dont run this place, so I am just a regular forum user. But I also appreciate this site a great deal. A news source without an agenda is very rare these days ( or I am just getting older and notice the agendas more ). But even harder is it to have a conversation which does not drift into one or multiple extreme corners of opinion. Especially on topics like SLS, its pretty easy to fall into the trap of making extreme opinionated statements. This has not happened so far in this thread (much to my surprise tbh.) The mods do a good job of limiting this but also most forum members do the same. I certainly do my best but not always with success.

Take for instance the opening question of this thread. Its the scientific approach. Ask what type of information could invalidate your current view on something. Thats EXACTLY what scientists are doing all the time. Thinking hard to find ways to prove them self wrong (at lest the good ones do that). And knowingly or not, this question steered the community in this forum to find responses to SLS that are more positively phrased than anything else I have read so far on the topic of SLS in this forum. I love it for that.

And to put at least some little on-topic information on this: If SLS gets funded adequately to DO useful things with SLS that could not be done with any commercial rocket, I will become pro-SLS. As long as such a program does not exist, SLS has no reason to exist. But I dont shed a tear about the money it costs. Thats put back into the society and is not lost. What we do loose with SLS (if it does not become useful) however is time of talented people. That time is not coming back and if SLS ends as it started: as a jobs program, we have lost all this talent for nothing. We could have used it for things like designing and building surface habitats on the Moon and Mars and let the industry figure out the launcher problem. Would have been a similar jobs program but without the wasted talent.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #26 on: 07/26/2017 04:06 PM »
This reminds me of a Facebook argument a college buddy and I had over the Ares I and Ares V cancellations. He convinced me that it doesn't matter what vehicle is used, I (like most here) care about the destination.

Going beyond LEO interests me. SLS making that possible interests me. So, no change of mind.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #27 on: 07/26/2017 04:27 PM »
I come down on the side against SLS.  Not because I think the rocket is flawed ( I admire it technically), or too expensive ( which it is), but because I see SLS as part of an overall problem that prioritizes symbolism vs. actual accomplishment.  

The purpose of SLS as a vehicle of government pork distribution & vote buying negates it's ability to actually accomplish anything.  It  hamstrings the NASA budget agains the fiscal realities of overall space spending.  Irregardless of how little a fraction of overall government spending NASA represents, there are too many competing interests to ever expect NASA's budget to be able to utilize SLS.  If anything, NASA's budget will go down over time.

I would change my mind if I saw SLS realigned into a more vertical program managed by a single entity that is free to manage the program for cost & performance.   I'd really get behind SLS ( Senate Launch System) if "SLS" could be divorced from the hardware, and have "SLS" be the government contracted program to award heavy lift to the most qualified USA based entrant.

Offline spacenut

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #28 on: 07/27/2017 02:00 AM »
Someone told me at work, the way the government works today.  That, if we had to fight WWII again, we would loose.  It would take too long to produce anything. 


Offline Proponent

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #29 on: 07/27/2017 07:45 AM »
I don't see anything that will change my mind about this program for years to come.

Do you mean you don't expect anything to change your mind about it, or that there is nothing, even events you regard as unlikely, that could change your mind?

Offline deltaV

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #30 on: 07/27/2017 01:59 PM »
I currently oppose SLS and Orion.

I would support SLS if (i) NASA gets a big budget increase and (ii) it remains the case that no commercial launch vehicle is available that can launch 40+ tonnes to LEO with 8+ meter diameter payload fairings. (Falcon Heavy presumably can't handle that diameter. New Glenn and ITS could presumably meet both requirements.)

I would support Orion if (i) NASA gets a big budget increase and (ii) Orion has capabilities that couldn't be more cost effectively provided by a commercial capsule or by whatever the capsule is docking with. A moon capsule is better suited to cislunar space than Mars so the recent switch to cislunar destinations should help somewhat.

I do not expect the funding part to happen unless another country starts doing significant things in space that the US hasn't already done.


Offline spacenut

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #31 on: 07/27/2017 02:12 PM »
One think that might change my mind is if they replace the solids with reusable kerolox boosters.  Have them land back at the cape to refuel and fly again.  Also, if they use a shorter reusable kerolox core, and add a second stage.  I believe costs would come down with a mostly reusable boosters and core.  Payloads would go up at the same time.  Existing rocket is an expensive kludge with todays technology. 

Offline Jim

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #32 on: 07/27/2017 02:14 PM »
One think that might change my mind is if they replace the solids with reusable kerolox boosters.  Have them land back at the cape to refuel and fly again.  Also, if they use a shorter reusable kerolox core, and add a second stage.  I believe costs would come down with a mostly reusable boosters and core.  Payloads would go up at the same time.  Existing rocket is an expensive kludge with todays technology. 

So would be the vehicle you describe

Offline RonM

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #33 on: 07/27/2017 02:22 PM »
One think that might change my mind is if they replace the solids with reusable kerolox boosters.  Have them land back at the cape to refuel and fly again.  Also, if they use a shorter reusable kerolox core, and add a second stage.  I believe costs would come down with a mostly reusable boosters and core.  Payloads would go up at the same time.  Existing rocket is an expensive kludge with todays technology. 

So would be the vehicle you describe

Theoretically, reusable rockets are cheaper if they fly often, but SLS will only fly once or twice a year. A reusable version of SLS would be more expensive to develop than the current design and would never fly enough to justify the cost.

Offline GWH

I would support SLS + Orion if the fixed costs didn't consume such a large percentage of the exploration budget for such a limited project flight rate and hardware put into space. It just doesn't make sense to me to have such a large infrastructure solely to fly such a limited average mass per year.  Especially not when commercial offerings that are coming online the same time as SLS are just as capable for their current architecture. If SLS were launching sooner so it could more adequately act as a bridge to these capabilities this point would be lessened.
 
Possible solutions:
- If were another user other than NASA for their human spaceflight (in)ambitions and occasional probe. Be this Military, other space programs or commercial.
- Pull the funding from somewhere else, like state budgets where the jobs are situated - not a realistic solution.
- Increase NASA's budget so more missions can be flown.

The other major detractor for me is with the current deep space gateway plans they are flying combined payloads that can be or extremely close to being within capacity of being broken out into separate smaller launches with the heavy lift commercial vehicles coming on to the market.  The universal stage adapter is largely dead weight for these co-manifested payloads, handicapping the single launch capability of SLS/Orion. The cost of a COTS tug (such as Cygnus bus) for the individual modules should be proven out to determine the value there.
 
The Deep Space Transport on the other hand makes sense to me, as it fully utilizes the capability of SLS with one very large and expensive payload within a single launch that can't be flow be others (excluding a large fairing variant of Vulcan with distributed lift).

The mass of Orion is very limiting to mission architectures, although if in orbit refueling of stages was developed I would be supportive of it.  That way more ambitious missions could be undertaken, and the utility of using Orion as a lifeboat to build a large gateway could be completed faster.

Offline envy887

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #35 on: 07/27/2017 05:34 PM »
I would support SLS if it wasn't required to use existing Shuttle contracts and contractors, developed some modern restartable/throttleable propulsion, and had a plausible progression path towards full and efficient reusability.

Offline Req

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #36 on: 08/09/2017 07:24 PM »
I would support SLS if it was called Ares V and it was landing an Altair on the moon in 2019.  SLS has been lost since the moment it was called SLS, if not long before.
« Last Edit: 08/09/2017 07:25 PM by Req »

Offline spacenut

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #37 on: 08/09/2017 07:55 PM »
I wish they would take the money spent on SLS and give some to SpaceX, Blue Origin, ULA, and Orbital/ATK. 

Money for SpaceX would go to completing Dragon II, Raptor, and developing BFR/ITS.

Money for Blue would go to developing New Glenn and BE-4.

Money for ULA would go to completing Vulcan and ACES.

Money for Orbital/ATK would go to the solid launch vehicle development as a competitive standby, and maybe a cheaper version of RL-10 and an RL-60. 

Then after the above items are complete, use the money for deep space infrastructure such as fuel depots, moon base, L1 lunar station, and Mars colony. 

I know hind sight is 20-20, but with a reusable ITS, New Glenn, and partially reusable Vulcan.  We would have the launch vehicles for almost any space infrastructure or goal.  With the RL-10 and RL-60, larger deep space probes and robotic equipment can be taken further into space. 

Offline Proponent

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #38 on: 08/09/2017 10:14 PM »
Many of us have views pro or con on SLS, but may I remind all that the point of this thread is for us to examine our assumptions.  What new information would lead you to change your view?

Offline Avron

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Re: What would it take to change your mind on SLS/Orion?
« Reply #39 on: 08/09/2017 10:47 PM »
If we did not live in a world that was changing rapidly on the launch front, e.g. competition - real competition - new engines from new players - re-flyable - flight proven stages  etc..

Then if the SLS could get a human back onto  the moon in by mid decade ahead of the competition (including China), then I may change my mind - right now its just more of the same and incredible waste of a golden opportunity and talent - I will stop there.

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